Believe it or not. I just recently celebrated my 48th birthday and with the big five-o approaching, I am ready to take all the valuable lessons I’ve learned in the past eight years that will help me make the next decade just as fabulous, if not even better. Turning 40 scares the hell out of a lot of women, but I can say from my own experiences that it really only gets better. When I was in my early 20s, 40 seemed so old. Not grandma old, but definitely not young. I always thought 40-somethings must feel a little sad or wistful about their stage of life. Little did I know that most of them felt just like I did inside my 20-something head — only better, wiser, and more confident. I had no way to know that most of them wouldn’t be 20 again if you paid them and that they actually liked being in their 40s.
You spend your 20s and 30s figuring yourself out, so by the time you get to your 40s, you know yourself really well. You’ve learned to accept — and even love — the things you cannot change. You’re still improving, of course, but you know who you are. You wear what you want. You watch and listen to what you want. The social pressures of the young adult world have no effect on you whatsoever. You’re so over that noise.
Even though you don’t care what people think, people actually do think more highly of you. Young people see you as a real grown-up, and older people see you as a respected peer. By now, you’ve been through most of life’s major “things” — jobs, marriage, children, moving, losing a loved one, existential crises, and much more. You’re a seasoned adult, and it shows. You don’t waste time with things you’ve already tried and didn’t care for. Even when your tastes change, you know right away and know to put your energy into what you care about.
You have four decades of stories to tell by the time you’re 40. All that experience makes you a more interesting person to talk to. You’ve learned and seen enough to understand that even the most studious and talented among us will only scratch the surface of the vast unfathomable pool of human knowledge. So when you meet a really smart person, you’re less intimated than you used to be. You’re at the sweet spot of life where you feel like you have the best of all worlds. It’s awesome. A lot of this is true for your 30s as well, but it just gets clearer as you move into your40s. I’ve heard the 50s get even better and have no fear about that next milestone. We choose how we age, and it doesn’t have to be scary or depressing. If you’re fearing your 40s, don’t. They may just be the best years of your life…so far.
1. It’s OK to say no as long as you learn the art of doing so graciously.
2. Don’t waste time worrying and moaning about stuff you have no control over. Let it go.
3. Everything you see depends on how you look at it.
4. Stop comparing your insides to everyone else’s outsides.
5. Listening to someone — really listening — is one of the most important, respectful and rewarding things you can do.
6. It’s awesome to collect people throughout life, but you’re truly blessed if you have a handful of besties who will always, always have your back. Even if you don’t speak to them all that often, you know they’re there.
7. The morning after is rarely — if ever — worth the night before.
8. No one gives a crap if you go to the supermarket in sweats without makeup and your unwashed hair in a ponytail on top of your head.
9. Experiences are infinitely more memorable than stuff.
10. Confidence is beautiful and powerful.
11. Laugh lines are worth it.
12. It will always boggle your mind how some people will exceed the lowest imaginable depth of stupidity, incompetence and nastiness, while others will exceed the highest imaginable pinnacle of kindness, compassion and helpfulness.
13. Don’t live your life by anyone else’s expectations, taste, hopes or dreams.
14. If you rely on others for joy, you will never be joyful yourself.
15. Grudges aren’t worth it.
16. You’ll never regret going out of your way to brighten someone’s day.
17. “Please” and “thank you” are always appreciated and appropriate.
18. Tell the little self-sabotaging voice in your head to bug off.
19. The food doesn’t matter. The table settings don’t matter. All that matters is the company.
20. Being super-busy is not a badge of honor, importance, popularity or success. It’s perfectly OK — and actually healthier and preferable — to be not so busy.
21. Despite your delusions, you have absolutely no idea what’s happening behind other people’s doors.
22. Most bad behavior and bitterness is rooted in jealousy.
23. What makes you happy isn’t the elixir that will make someone else happy.
24. It’s not always someone else’s fault. Sometimes you have to look in the mirror.
25. You can disagree with someone’s opinions and beliefs, but it doesn’t make them wrong. And it’s probably best just not to go there when it has to do with religion, politics or love.
26. Friendships change over time. Sometimes they have an expiration date and they dissolve into fuzziness. And that’s OK.
27. Eye cream is your friend.
28. Stop waxing poetic about how good it used to be. Stop fantasizing about how good it might be in the future. Savor how good it is right now. Make your moments matter.
29. It’s nice to be thought of and remembered.
30. Sometimes you’ve gotta do stuff just because it’s the right thing to do. Often it’s uncomfortable. Usually it’s inconvenient. But it’s almost always worth it.
31. Elephants don’t belong in the room. Having the tough conversation is ultimately better than living with the energy-sapping misery of resentment or misunderstanding.
32. Some stuff just isn’t meant to be. The sooner you accept it and stop trying to force it to happen, the better off you’ll be.
33. The solution to someone else’s problem that seems so obvious to you is likely something they’ve already tried and it hasn’t worked.
34. A good night’s sleep is a gift from the heavens and can change everything.
35. People will make time for you if you’re important to them. And they pretty much won’t if you’re not.
36. Sometimes you need to suck it up hard in the name of love, peace and harmony.
37. Stillness is restorative and healing.
38. Take one day at a time, one step at a time. Break down challenges into small, do-able chunks. It will all get done.
39. Life is what happens while you’re waiting expectantly for the next big thing on the horizon to come to fruition. Savor the everyday.
40. If you push yourself and focus on what’s good rather than wallowing selfishly in the negative, things will almost always improve.
XO Tamara Chloé